KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Legal Challenge To ‘Individual Mandate’ Sees Day In Court

Bloomberg: "A federal judge in Virginia said he'll rule by yearend whether President Barack Obama's health care overhaul is constitutional, adding that his decision will be a 'brief stop' in the case on its way to the Supreme Court." U.S. District Court Judget Henry E. Hudson heard arguments today in Richmond, Virginia, about whether the health law's requirement for individuals to buy health insurance is congressional overreaching. "Already, a U.S. judge in Michigan has found the law falls within the framework of the constitution, while a federal judge in Florida last week, in allowing a case in Pensacola to proceed, said it's not even a 'close call' that Congress may have overstepped its bounds" (McQuillen, 10/18).

The Washington Post: "In a packed Richmond courtroom, U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson heard more than two hours of oral arguments by lawyers acting on behalf of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) and the Obama administration. ... Hudson, who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush in 2002, told the lawyers that he planned to review the arguments and 'mine deeply' briefings in the case before ruling. But he made clear that he knows his opinion will be only one of many expressed before the momentous case is complete." Judge Hudson said repeatedly that "he sees the case's core question as determining whether Congress can regulate an individual's inactivity--a person's decision to go without health insurance--under its constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce" (Helderman, 10/18). 

The Washington Post:The legal challenges to the health law continue. "A federal judge in Virginia will hear arguments Monday on whether the new federal health care law is unconstitutional. Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli II (R) will argue that Congress overstepped its constitutional authority by enacting a provision that requires individuals to purchase health insurance by 2014 or pay a fine. Lawyers for President Obama will tell the judge that the individual insurance mandate falls within Congress' constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce" (Helderman, 10/18).

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Last week, a federal judge in Florida allowed part of a legal challenge to go forward that includes 20 different states; today, a federal judge hears arguments in a separate suit spearheaded by the state of Virginia. The issue that this effort is boiling down to revolves around the 'individual mandate' in the bill, which requires people to buy health insurance" (Dupree, 10/18).

WTOP (Washington, D.C.): "Cuccinelli says he is encouraged by a Florida ruling last week in a separate suit filed by 20 other states, that the penalty is not a tax. 'This is the first judge to rule either way and he ruled rather clearly that it is not a tax,' he says. 'We hope to see the same ruling coupled with a ruling that the individual mandate is unconstitutional in this case'" (10/18).

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